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Posts Tagged ‘Schedules’

So we went on a week-long cruise the week of February 18th. It was a very fun, very busy vacation what with islands, snorkeling, an excursion that was cancelled and replaced by a different one, and in general staying up until 2 AM every night playing games with my brother and sister-in-law. But for once I didn’t get sick ON vacation. No, my normal cold that loves to accompany me on time off arrived late the last day of the cruise, for which I was mostly grateful. The only reason I wasn’t grateful was that we had all of one day before my mom and her boss/friend arrived to stay at our house for the rest of the week because of training in DC.

So I spent the rest of the week being mildly entertaining, but mostly just abandoning everyone and going to bed early and getting up as late as I possibly could get away with to try and survive the dreaded, mind-clouding head cold as I prepared for three briefings at the end of the week.

Thankfully I could talk normally again by the time my first presentation happened Thursday, and Daniel and I had a brief but awesome weekend before I left at 5:00 AM Monday for a business trip. We made the most of the weekend by going to see Sleeping Beauty by the Washington Ballet company at the Kennedy Center. It was simply lovely. Sometimes, and as a writer and a romantic I am hesitant to admit it, the ballet sequences get a little long and I want them to move on in the story, but I guess that is bound to be the case in a world where we are used to fast-moving movies, internet, and even books in which writers are instructed to waste no time getting to the point. I really think we miss something of life by always being in a hurry to get to the point.

Anyway, life finally got somewhat back to normal Thursday morning and I got back on my 4:45 AM schedule and even wrote a little, which just felt so good! I stayed up until 4:00 AM last night (this morning?) reading. Which was both because it was hard to put the book down and just because I could. How I love weekends!

So that’s my update and though I certainly have more to say, I know this is going to be long enough that most of you probably won’t bother to read it. 😛

But briefly referencing my earlier comment about  missing stuff in life, here is an inspirational quote for you:

Rushing

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Having left off last time saying I was getting up at 4:45 AM and “happy” about it, I was thinking it was about time for an update, and a question from one of my friends accentuated the fact.

And the verdict is currently: I am still getting up at 4:45. And I am still at peace. Oh, there are moments – like last night, when I buried my head on Daniel’s shoulder and determinedly cried out that I didn’t want to get up at 4:45 because I wanted to stay up and watch another movie while (sort of) working on my book. Daniel just held me and reminded me that once we got up I would be happy for it and reminded me of my weight loss goals and – more especially – of the cruise we would be taking in a week, and I took a deep breath and reminded myself of my determination to look at it as a challenge, not an obstacle – and cleaned up and went to bed. And he was right; I woke up and, though it was hard, reminded myself that it takes actual work to get what I want – and after I actually did Calisthenics and was on my way to Starbucks to do devotions, I was happy I had forced my way through, as always.

So the long and short of it, it is going well. And I think, if only because of my purposeful integration of God-time into my schedule and my willingness to sacrifice my night-owledness, I might actually do it this year. I might actually meet my fitness goals. And, by default of a good schedule, might also meet some of my writing goals.

Speaking of which, I got a Scribbler box, which is – according to them – the only subscription box for Writers available. It was sooo much fun to unpack! But they had included what they called a writer’s challenge. And the challenge was to write down your writing goals for 2018 and then put it away somewhere to look at in December. And I wrote down the following goals:

  • Get something (anything!) published in Writer’s Digest (really, anything would count, but I figure with their numerous writing contests, they are the most likely candidate.
  • Finish Ethrill (I decided another 50,000 words ought to do it [I think], and did the calculations and realized if I wrote 220 words a day I could get to that by the end of the year no problem. I realized this last Monday. Want to know how many words I’ve written? None. I WILL catch up. I WILL!
  • Finish editing and submit God’s Masterpiece for publication (realizing it won’t be accepted, but at least can say I’ve submitted a book in my life)
  • I feel like there was a fourth bullet, but those are the only three I can remember offhand, so I must not care much about the fourth one.

My new calendar has a writing tracker calendar so I plan to use that to track Ethrill words – and catch up when I do thing like last week and avoid it because I’m afraid I won’t be able to think of what to write.

My husband came up with a great idea to help with this – he suggested I write a short story placed in Ethrill but having nothing to do with my current story to get to know my world better. I Love that idea. I always have the goal of writing a short story a week (because of that one quote that I will post at the bottom), but have only actually accomplished that – um – never. But maybe I’ll try again but this time make the short stories in Ethrill to acquaint myself with my own world. We’ll see.

Good luck all you writers as you try to meet your own goals!

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Apparently my previous post was a little too sobering for anyone to read/like/comment on – which is fine – I am still glad I pushed away my fear of confrontation enough to bring it up. It’s what so many introverts/writers struggle with, isn’t it? That fear someone is going to attack you for your beliefs, standards, work, you-name-it.

Anyway, that actually isn’t what I’m writing about today. The day before yesterday I had an epiphany. Well, okay, maybe not an epiphany, but God talked to me about some stuff that has [hopefully] helped with  . . . well, me.  As anyone who has been reading my posts know, I started a new schedule in January (as I do basically every year of my life) to ensure I had time to work out and write and still have a little bit of an evening – it involved getting up at 5:00 AM. I have been having an awful time with it.

My body has been refusing to adjust to this new time frame. I can barely make myself go to bed early as I internally argue that I am a night owl, and it is ridiculous to go to bed at 9 or 9:30, and that is like when the peak of my energy often happens. Which results in little sleep as I very crankily rise at 5:00, and rush through calisthenics/stretches, getting dressed, doing my hair, putting on makeup, finishing assembling my stuff, and rush out the door to beat HOV hours, grabbing lunch and breakfast on the way and feeling generally very disorganized and extremely upset that I have to do this. I usually calm down around 6:15 as I sit down in Starbucks to do my devotions, have a fairly good day, and become cranky again around late afternoon as I realize I have to do it all again the next day.

I felt like I was SERIOUSLY living for weekends, and told myself over and over again I could get sleep then and that that is when I could live, and around Saturday evening, inevitably becoming depressed that the rush and lack of sleep would start again in less than 48 hours. And then thinking ahead to when the next vacation/day off might be that I could be on a “normal” schedule for a day or so.

It hit a peak on Wednesday. Having gotten started on calisthenics about 5 minutes too late, I didn’t have time to even do makeup, and as I walked out, I looked at Daniel and said, “I can’t keep doing this.” I knew I had to figure out something that wouldn’t make me dread every day of every week.

As I sat down to devotions about 25 minutes later, I had a hard time concentrating, the frustrations still welling up inside me overwhelmingly and the obvious suddenly occurred to me – this was NOT temporary. Not if I planned to remain in this job, keep early hours, and wanted to work out and write. I would be doing this for the foreseeable future, and my heart sank like a rock. I just couldn’t. I rather distractedly finished devotions and went to work halfheartedly.

Now, my work has a wellness program – you get points that translate to money if you do things that they consider good for you. One of those things is watching weekly short videos on how to improve your health and your life in general. I began this week’s video as I scanned my e-mails and thought about how I didn’t want to work – and that is when God decided to use a secular means to hit me with a 2×4. This video has nothing to do with Christian life or ethics, but as I listened to their “pep talk” on being healthier, they asked, “What are your excuses in life? It can be anything that might convince you not to work out or eat healthy.” And that is when it occurred to me. My excuse was that I am a night owl. Therefore I shouldn’t be forced to get up early. I should be able to stay up late all I want. As I reluctantly conceded this internally, they continued, something along the lines of (significantly summarized):

Change is not fun. It is not easy. It takes sacrifice and courage to keep going. If it was easy everyone would do it. What type of attitude/emotional reaction do you have to your challenges? Negative reactions will elicit [insert multiple bad physical reactions]. But when you look at something as a challenge instead of an obstacle, you have a different reaction – your hormones rise to the challenge and seek to overtake it. So instead of letting excuses and negative emotions get in your way, look at it as a challenge and rise to meet that challenge.

It was a lot longer than that, obviously, but that was the essence of it. And as they talked, I recalled the verses I am currently memorizing in Philippians 4. Whatsoever things are [honest, true, just, lovely, of good report] . . . think on these things. And I realized that the same thing they were trying to teach – that you should look at challenges in life as a positive instead of as obstacles to get frustrated with – was essentially what God teaches us to do as well. In the same chapter we are instructed to be content in any state of life. So at that moment, I decided to change my thought pattern. I would view my weight loss, writing, and working goals as challenges to achieve –  challenges I would have to work hard for, sacrifice for, and in general act like one of those heroes and heroines I love so much from books who always (somehow in a few paragraphs or pages!) overcome physical difficulties through sacrifice and striving.

I recalculated and realized I would only need to rise 15 minutes earlier (yes, 4:45 AM) to still accomplish all I wanted to, get  home in a timely manner, and not be rushed. So, VERY long story shortened-a-tiny-bit, I have implemented that, along with a more joyful attitude, since Thursday morning (yay! Two days!) and what an incredible difference it has made already. While it is has been difficult to go to sleep early because my body is so used to later hours, I haven’t been chafing inside at the need to do so, and, it is probably partially God’s strength, but getting up at that insanely early hour really hasn’t been bad. I’ve even been cheerful. And I have the appropriate amount of time I need to accomplish everything I need. And when I start to feel that familiar dread, I remind myself that it is a challenge I am trying to overcome, not an obstacle.

Now, I totally realize it has been all of 2 days and next week I could be right back where I was before – but I pray I am not. I pray I take this to heart, because I am pretty sure God is firm on having a good attitude, no matter the situation, and especially when you are trying to be wise with your time and health. Being happy or unhappy is a choice. My choice. And I choose joy.

Joy

 

 

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I just ordered a planner completely themed around being a writer. Yup. They have those. How I only thought to look for them now, I have no idea, but there are apparently plenty of them – some of which are plenty expensive as well. But, they are so cool! They let you track your word counts, goals, tasks (writing or otherwise related), have character sketch pages, plot pages, and any numerous amount of things that you didn’t even know you needed until you saw it! I looked up several, but narrowed it down to the two presented by The Writing Pal, and almost against my better judgement, went for the expensive one. The WriteMind, which lets you customized. To tell the absolute truth, I kind of liked the idea of the Novel Planner better, but I simply fell in love with the planner covers in the WriteMind. Also, apparently it transports better, and that is kind of important. I can’t believe I spent that much on a planner (I have a hard time spending that much for shoes!), but at the same time I am super excited.

Writing, or rather, editing, has been very off and on this week. We are training in a new person at work and between that and meetings, it has been hard to squeeze in long enough lunch breaks to actually have time to edit. I am still working my way through Writing Magic, but decided to skip the writing exercise for today because it is a long one and would take most of the time and I wanted to write a blog post for no particular reason (except maybe to avoid editing).

I’ve also cut my 45 minute lunch break down to 30 minutes so I can leave work earlier and work out in the gym downstairs but still get to drive home before traffic gets horrible.

It can be very hard figuring out priorities. Cutting out 15 minutes of writing/lunch time doesn’t seem like much, but add in heating up and/or prepping food for lunch and suddenly your time has dwindled to very little indeed. But – I want both to write and to lose weight/get in shape/be a healthier person. And, as I am discovering this week, I am apparently more likely to actually work out if I do it before I get home because once I get home I just want to settle down and enjoy the evening after a long day’s work. So I am going to try this for awhile and see what happens. Hopefully I’ll get into enough of a groove that I can settle down to writing pretty quickly – and either way it is still more than I have been doing!

Anyway, good luck to all of you who are also trying to balance life and writing! I know I’m not the only one.

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As part of my new year’s resolution, I have a new schedule (as anyone who knows me at all would have already guessed).  I get up at 5:00 AM, do a quick 10-minute workout (sometimes Calisthenics and sometimes stretches as instructed by the chiropractor), get dressed, do hair and makeup, grab the lunch my husband has packed up for me and am out the door by 5:45. I am in DC by 6:00 and at a Starbucks down the street from my building by 6:10, where I get a small coffee and do devotions for half and hour. Then I pack up and am at work by 6:45 AM. This allows me to take a 45 minute lunch break, which I have been using to write. I am trying to do some sort of writing exercise and then work on editing my God’s Masterpiece book.

Today’s writing exercise/sort of lesson was a common theme – making your character suffer. Apparently a lot of authors don’t want bad things to happen to their character. I have never had that issue. I have stopped killing off every one in my books, relegating it to only a few, but those few must go, no matter how much I cry while I write it.

Today I discovered, however, that when it comes to making my characters’ suffer, I am fine with emotional suffering, but I have a hard time with physical suffering. Oh, they can starve to death or be exhausted or things like that but – the book I am going through (Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine) made me write out the scene in which Red Riding Hood is eaten by the wolf, with instructions to describe exactly how she felt, what she saw, etc. etc., and fairly strict instructions that she was to actually be eaten. I did so, reluctantly – because how horrifying is it to write out a scene in which someone is eaten? Especially since you know that, in non-fairytales – they aren’t actually swallowed in one bite. I wrote it out as much as I could, shuddering inside the whole time, and probably ended it faster than the exercise wanted me to.

But that experiment taught me two things. One, which is what I already mentioned – there is a difference in physical and emotional suffering – and I may have one down, but am terrified of the other. And two, that as terrible as suffering such as that is, it is prime for description and feeling. So, while I doubt I will ever write a book in which someone is eaten, or even physically assaulted outside of perhaps being hit, I am going to work on the physical suffering side, particularly when it comes to descriptions.

And now my 45 minutes are up, so it’s back to work with that awful scene still in my mind. Thanks, Gail. Thanks.

cool-girl-phone-blanket-work

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I have very little to say by way of an update, which is why I have been putting off writing since the last time. I’m just – plodding along.

  • Editing my book, which is going far slower than I would wish it – and I am getting so many notes stacked up about the edits that have to be made, it is quite discouraging. Perhaps next time I won’t wait until the book is “done” to do actual research. But I don’t know – I seem to actually finish books when I do that. Still, I’m trying to move one piece at a time and not get too discouraged. It will be done eventually.
  • Working – not traveling as much right now, which is a nice change – I’m able to keep on my diet, do housework, and get on a schedule, more or less – and you all know how much I love schedules.
  • Dieting – as usual. Maybe this year I’ll actually lose it? My sister and I are doing weekly check-ins, which is helpful for keeping me on for the most part. I don’t like confessing I didn’t lose weight.
  • Daniel and I are not really working out this time around – we have decided instead to practice dancing and learn new dance moves by watching YouTube videos. I assume eventually we will start doing actual workouts again, but dancing is so much fun and we actually have room in our new apartment!

Anyway – that’s about it for me. Hopefully next time I’ll have more exciting things to say – like being done editing my book or something!

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Anyone who knows me knows that I am constantly writing schedules. I think that if I can find a schedule I can stick to, then I will have a more organized life and I will be able to fit in EVERYTHING that I want to do and learn (which, by the way, is a lot). I write and rewrite and rewrite schedules and lists in an attempt to organize my days in such a way that not only will I be able to write, research, read, submit items for publication, work out, do devotions, make all meals, and clean the house,  but also learn the piano, learn Russian, work on additional books and stories, learn more about writing, visit exotic locations (such as the library) AND have free time, watch movies/tv shows, play games, and spend time with my husband. You get the idea.

So – my latest attempt involves getting up between 5:00 and 5:30 in the morning to give myself an hour and a half to two hours before I have to get ready for work to fit in anything involving writing that I can free up my evening a little as well as get to bed at a reasonable time (hard for a night owl, but necessary when you have a career). This has been my goal for approximately two weeks and I’ve already rewritten my schedule accordingly about 3 times. I’ve succeeded twice. Once last week and now this morning. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Despite the difficulty of getting up at what I think is an ungodly time in the morning – there is still something really nice about having a completely silent house to work in – and more than that – not feeling like I SHOULD be doing something else – because I know everything else can wait until evening. It helps me actually concentrate more on all my writing stuff because I have no distractions or guilt about not doing other things. So I do hope I get up tomorrow too. After all, a writer who also has a career and ambitions outside of writing has to make sacrifices somewhere. Sleep might be one of them. I’ll let you know – or maybe just write another schedule.

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